Joseph Pilates at 57 and 82
It's that time of year when we evaluate our past year. What was our goal when we started and where did we end up? You will not always reach your goal in 12 months. Sometimes you'll reach it in 4 or 5 months and then sometimes you may only make a small dent in the process. As long as you make the dent. That makes me think of the Pilates quote that I've seen over and over on various websites and marketing material: In 10 sessions you'll feel a difference, in 20 sessions you'll see a difference and in 30 sessions you will have a whole new body.” I'm sure many of you have heard or read that quote. What’s it about and how will it help me reach my goal you ask?
You know the more often you do anything, garden, dance, read a map, the quicker you get proficient at it The more you do anything, the more you learn and change. That’s how change happens…through repetition…and not repeating just once a month, but often. When we study anything, if we practice, we learn and reinforce. So when I'm asked the question, "how often should I do this" (Pilates) I have to say every day. Do you need to take a private session every day? A reformer or mat class, every day? No. You DO need to practice your principles EVERY DAY. Joseph's 10, 20, 30 quote was based on practicing with him 3 times a week for 55 minutes each session, doing his mat exercises at home and applying what he taught to daily life! It’s not 30 sessions over 4 months. That's 12 sessions in a month…that’s just over 2 months of sessions with the master of masters…So what about the 10, 20, 30 thing now?
Now, you need to find the most *qualified instructor and work with that individual on a regular basis. Between practice sessions, do you stop working? No, no…you are processing and adjusting consciously and eventually subconsciously, between sessions. Then the next day you practice again. This is how we study a language, a musical instrument, a form of dance, etc…same thing with exercise and Pilates.
It won’t happen with less. 10 sessions with 3 concentrated sessions per week means that in just over 3 weeks you will feel better…and feeling is where it all begins. We feel results before we see them. Then 20 sessions with 3 per week means that in just over 6 weeks you will likely see a difference and look better. That’s a month and a half of sincere commitment. Then we’ve got 30 sessions with 3 per week. That’s 10 weeks. 10 weeks is 2 and a half months. That’s a serious commitment to have a completely new body.
When Mr. Pilates was alive, he was also encouraging his clients to do the mat work on their own at home. He wanted people to do Pilates at least 4 times a week to really make a difference. He wrote the book "Return to Life Through Contrology” as his at home program. The man had a plan for fitness!
Now, does that mean you cannot benefit with less than 3 times a week? Of course not! People can achieve a lot with 1 or 2 times a week if they apply the principles they learn in a Pilates session (not just the exercises, but the actions for stability and opposition) to their other activities, workouts and life!
Not everyone's schedule or bank account allows for 3 private sessions a week. Then supplement with group reformer or mat classes and do your homework. Homework will help you get the most out of the time and money you invest in private and group sessions.
I tell my clients at the end of the session on Day 1 that they have homework. Some look shocked until I tell them what it is: during the day, as often as you can remember, pull your abdominals in and up and lengthen your back. Maybe you’ll remember once a day, maybe more…but anything is more than you’ve been doing and it's what you can do for yourself until we meet again. In time, I'll give more and more of the work until you start asking for programs to use while on vacation etc. Pretty soon practicing Pilates outside of the studio becomes the norm.
And that's how we make a dent, or full out reach our fitness goal at the end of the year!
In Peace and Love.
*A qualified instructor being one that has attended a nationally recognized training program, completed their apprenticeship and practice hours and passed a written and practical proficiency exam administered by a board of Pilates master instructors.